An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Dianxi 滇系

Sep 30, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Dianxi 滇系 is a book on Yunnan written by Shi Fan 師范 (early 19th cent.), courtesy name Duanren 端人, style Lifei 荔扉, from Zhaozhou 趙州 close to present-day Dali 大理, Yunnan. His collected works are called Jinhua shanqiao ji 金華山樵集.

The book of 40 juan was inspired by Shi's study of a large amount of older local gazetteers of the province and other, more comprehensive books, like Gu Yanwu's 顧炎武 (1613-1682) Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書 and Qi Zhaonan's 齊召南 (1703-1768) Shuidao tigang 水道提綱, a book on China's rivers. Shi consulted more than 400 different text for his study on Yunnan. The book was finished in 1807.

It begins with several maps of the province, including one of the starry sky, with descriptions to each. The main text is divided into thirteen chapters on administrative units and their history, offices and their occupants, important historical affairs, taxes and local products, mountains and rivers, eminent persons, literature, native chieftains (tusi 土司), native tribes delivering tributes to the Qing court (shu Yi 屬夷), travel routes, and miscellaneous matters. The appendix treats the themes regional history, topography, currencies, river conservation, historic or tourist spots, and question of state examinations. It includes two treatises on the native chieftains, namely Ni Shui's 倪蜕(1666-1736) Tuguan shuo 土官說 and Liu Bin's 劉彬 Tusi lun 土司論.

These texts, along with Shi Fan's own chapter on the native tribes, provide valuable information on the aboriginal tribes in Yunnan. Unfortunately Shi Fan does not always indicate his sources, and sometimes altered the original texts of his sources. The book was first printed in 1808. A reprint was published in 1887. The Dianxi is part of the series Yunnan congshu 雲南叢書 from 1914.

Table 1. Contents of the Dianxi 滇系
1 疆域(沿革、形勢、關驛、城池附之) Geography (app. historical development, topography, passes and postal stations, city walls and moats)
2 曰職官(兵防、循卓附之) Civilian government (app. defence, outstanding successes)
3 事略(師旅、封拜附之) History (app. military campaigns, investitures)
4 賦產(倉儲、錢法附之) Taxes and levies (app. granaries, monetary policy)
5 山川(水利,古迹附之) Mountains and rivers (app. hydraulic work, historic spots)
6 人物(選舉附之) Eminent persons (app. state examinations)
7 典故 Exemplary matters
8 藝文 Writings
9 土司 Native chieftains
10 屬夷 Barbarians under the juristiction of the province
11 旅途 Travelling
12 雜載 Miscellaneous records
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Shi Wei 師偉 (2016). "Shi Fan Dianxi de bianzuan yu jiazhi 師范《滇系》的編纂與價值", Honghe Xueyuan xuebao 紅河學院學報, 2016 (10).
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